Whether you’re a seasoned solo traveler or bravely trying it for the first time, Greater Palm Springs is the perfect destination for anyone who wants to fulfill their wanderlust. If you’re hoping to make friends, consider a bike tour or dinner party where it’s easy to strike up a conversation and interact with your fellow adventure-seekers. If you’d rather spend some reflective time alone, a nature hike or sunset swim might be more your speed.
The best thing about traveling solo is you’re the boss. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want, on your own time. And the great thing about doing it in Greater Palm Springs is the treasure trove of experiences, all surrounded by the natural beauty of this SoCal oasis.
Things to Do
You can’t visit without a ride on the world’s largest rotating tram car. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway offers unprecedented views of Greater Palm Springs. On clear days you can even see the Salton Sea. At the top of the San Jacinto Mountains, there are more than 50 miles of hiking trails. You can hike solo or join a group hike led by an expert. If you get hungry and would rather chill, you'll also find two restaurants, observation decks, and a museum.
For animal lovers, The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens is a great way to be transported to the deserts of the world as you watch animals up close in their natural habitat. You can tour the zoo at your own pace and take in the rhinos at the Rhino Savanna, feed the giraffes, or check out the wallabies at the Australian Adventures exhibit.
Learn all about this SoCal oasis storied Hollywood past on foot or by bike with a Palm Springs Historical Society tour. These tours are led by volunteer docents and are a great way to learn all about the celebrities, design pioneers, and architecture that helped put Greater Palm Springs on the map. If you don’t have a bike, don’t worry. The tours provide everything you’d need, from a bike and water to a helmet and audio receiver so you can hear the guide. Group tours start in late October. Private summer tours are also available by calling or texting 760-844-2242.
With an abundance of museums and galleries, a cultural stop to get your fix on is a must. The Palm Springs Art Museum is the perfect place to do it. It’s located in the heart of downtown Palm Springs nestled against the San Jacinto Mountains and features a variety of programming with 28 galleries, two sculpture gardens, and a lecture hall.
Greater Palm Springs is known for its beautiful surroundings and plethora of hiking trails for anyone from beginners to more advanced travelers. Tahquitz Canyon, home to a 60-foot seasonal waterfall and located on the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation, is the perfect place to be one with nature and see some of the area's native flora and fauna. You can do this solo or take a ranger-led hike, which is free with your paid admission.
Places to Stay
Finding the perfect place to stay for a solo traveler is important for peace of mind — whether it’s a boutique neighborhood hotel, a luxurious resort, or something in the heart of the city surrounded by lots of action.
For something on the quiet side but still chockfull of amenities, try Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa, La Quinta Resort and Club or Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa, Indian Wells. All three properties have on-site restaurants, shopping, spas, and incredible pools where you can splash and lounge around all day long if you choose.
For something near all the action and within walking distance of lots of great restaurants and shopping, try the Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs in the heart of downtown Palm Springs. On the first floor at Window Bar there’s a fun happy hour with great food and drink specials, plus a DJ on Thursday and Fridays. Head up to the seventh floor and enjoy the rooftop pool and bar with stunning mountain views.
For something a bit more quaint, try a boutique hotel like Holiday House. This intimate 28-room hotel has no televisions in the rooms but is rich in other amenities meant to create a communal environment.
If you’re looking for a funky place with plenty of activities and a splash-worthy pool, then try out The Saguaro Palm Springs. You can get your day started with yoga, relax in their many hammocks, listen to a DJ poolside, and then have dinner and drinks at the El Jefe speakeasy.
Where to Eat
Greater Palm Springs has deep roots in date production, and Shields Date Garden in Indio is a great place for breakfast or lunch. You can indulge in their date-inspired dishes while dining on their expansive patio with views of the mountains and palm tree garden. A must-try on the menu are their bacon-wrapped stuffed dates. After a delicious meal, head into their shop to learn all about the history of dates or take a walk on their grounds, surrounded by a date farm.
If you’re looking for a brunch spot, head to Wilma & Frieda, which has two locations in Greater Palm Springs: Palm Desert and Palm Springs. They’ve got all your comfort food staples plus some with a twist like the Chicken & Waffles Benny and Christmas Enchiladas topped with eggs. They also have an incredible pastry case (you'll want to try the Meyer Lemon Blueberry Tart!).
For lunch or dinner, grab a table at Las Casuelas Original. This local favorite has been serving up authentic Mexican cuisine in Palm Springs since 1958. They have all your traditional Mexican dishes, including menudo.
For dinner, if you’re interested in a lively experience, try Kings Highway on a Monday night where your meal is served up with a side of Drag Queen Bingo. The upscale diner is popular, so reservations are suggested (they do have counter seating, which is perfect for the solo traveler!).
PS Underground is an incredibly unique dining experience, especially if you love live theater and are interested in meeting new people. The multi-course themed meal seats groups of people together to watch a cabaret show as they eat a carefully curated meal that reflects the show’s theme. So if you like to travel alone but prefer to break bread with others, this is a great option.
At Desert Tasty Tours all you need are some walking shoes and an appetite. The tours include stops at some of the tastiest restaurants in downtown Palm Springs. You can make new friends and learn all about the culinary and cultural highlights of the area.
From museums to wellness experiences, there is always something new to discover in Greater Palm Springs. Explore more popular and unique things to do beyond this list and see just how much this stunning oasis has to offer.